The Coming Media Shift

September 16, 2009

One year after the collapse of Wall Street signaled the start of the Great Recession, another struggling industry is moving fast to change. And by change I mean charge. There’s been a seismic shift in online journalism, from a philosophy of free content to one where everything may soon disappear behind pay walls.

Say goodbye to the era of the Free Internet. The New York Times recently wrote how Steven Brill and Journalism, once the lone venture seeking to build a paid online model for newspapers and magazines, suddenly has competition.

Times reporter Richard Perez-Pena said media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and tech giants Google, Microsoft and IBM have each announced plans to develop pay systems for media companies. Murdoch owns the Wall Street Journal, the one major paper which already successfully charges for online content.

Read the Times story here:

What’s interesting about the looming shift in online journalism is how the media itself has resisted. From reporters and editors to industry insiders and executives, the cry has been that a pay model would never work.

Many news organizations tried to charge – unsuccessfully — for content at the dawn of the Internet in the mid 1990s. Back then, customers revolted because newspaper penetration was high in most communities and the online content was little more than a less-glitzy version of the print edition.

Not today. There’s far more content online, including multimedia offerings such as video and photo galleries, than in the daily paper. And with the advent of Open ID-style systems, a pay model to view content from multiple news sources is possible – and inevitable.

The traction for this move has come in the last year. The latest economic crisis forced many businesses to rethink how they operate. An advertising crunch has online media considering a fundamental shift. And it’s coming fast.

On Long Island, Newsday has a unique path toward this. Cablevision bought the paper last summer and has moved quickly to use the content as a selling point to fend off hard-charging Verizon. So what does it mean locally? If you already subscribe to Newsday or Cablevision — nothing. But if not, get ready to lose access to Newsday.

Also, Cablevision, in partnership with Newsday, is launching MSG Varsity, a high school sports channel. It’s the first such network in the nation. And once again, it’s content that’s available only through Cablevision. Expect more innovation to come in the next few years.

Blog originally posted at LI

Bad Timing For Local Business

May 27, 2009

So you think you had bad timing. Here is an example of a high-profile local business that’s been struck down by the Great Recession. The good news is the New York Dragons pro football team, and Arena Football in general, look to move forward in 2010.

Check out the story from Dave Caldwell in The New York Times:

“EYLAN HARDING, the coach of the New York Dragons football team, has a windowless office so deep inside Nassau Coliseum that visitors might need a global positioning system to find it. He likes it that way. He can watch game film and work on his laptop in relative peace.

The Dragons’ 16-game Arena Football League season would normally be in full swing, but the league’s board, citing debt and higher expenses, canceled the 2009 schedule in December. Still, Mr. Harding and the rest of the scaled-down Dragons staff are preparing to resume play eventually.”

Blog originally posted at LI

LIA Mobilizes Businesses Against Albany

March 31, 2009

The Long Island Association and its president, Matt Crosson, are sounding the alarm for local business owners to look at what’s going on in Albany. Apparently, the state budget is not good for Long Island.

Here is an excerpt from the Long Island Business News, in the Monday, March 30 edition, regarding the LIA’s stance:

The head of the region’s most powerful business group is calling the budget deal struck in Albany over the weekend a disaster for Long Island.

In a statement sent to the Long Island Association board, President Matt Crosson said Albany’s leaders defied logic by passing a budget during a recession that would make job creation impossible.

“Governor Paterson and the majority leaders have found a way to make doing business even more expensive,” Crosson said. “It is a budget without logic, without common sense, and without a clear understanding of what is required to bring New York back from this recession.

“A vote in favor of this budget is a vote against the future of Long Island and Long Islanders,” Crosson said.

Read the rest of the story here:

Here is the email blast the LIA sent regarding the issue:

It’s rare that the Long Island Association, the region’s largest business and civic organization since 1926, asks the Long Island community to get into the trenches to fight bad legislation in Albany, but this time we need your help.

The state budget agreed to by Governor Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Smith and Assembly Speaker Silver will be disastrous for Long Island and for your business. Here are a few of the many reasons why. This budget:

+ Imposes new income taxes on 60,000 Long Islanders, including thousands of small businesses
Will cause property taxes to increase.

+ Eliminates $370 million in STAR property tax offsets.

+ Will increase LIPA bills.

+ Will increase all health insurance premiums through new taxes.

+ Provides no economic development programs or stimulus for the Island.

+ Does nothing to reduce state workforce costs, as almost all businesses are doing.

You can help defeat this budget and it won’t take much time. We want you and all of your employees to send an e-mail to the Long Island state legislators. Here’s how you can do it in just a minute or two:

Go to Under the column “LIA Action” click on “Let Your Voice Be Heard.” Click on the boxes labeled “State Senate Members” and “State Assembly Members.” Write your e-mail. All you need to say is: “This budget will be a disaster for my business and Long Island. You must vote against it.” Click “Send E-Mail.”

Your e-mail message will go to all of Long Island’s legislative delegation.

Blog originally posted at LI

Watching My Nest Egg Crack

January 21, 2009

Good thing I’m only 35. I’ve got time to rebuild my retirement funds. When I left Newsday a year ago to pursue business interests, I did what nearly everyone leaving a corporate job today does with his 401K. I rolled it into an IRA.

I was tempted to take a good chunk out, pay the penalty and use it to help bankroll my venture. But I didn’t. As it turns out, I was even more dumb. Sensing my youth and bullish outlook on tech, I placed all into Yahoo. I can hear the groans already. I’m rolling my eyes as I write this.

Needless to say, my investment tanked my more than half.

So after a train-wreck September, October and November, I finally cashed out of Yahoo and kept the assets in a money-market fund. Until the beginning of the new year. I sensed the new administration might signal the start of a turn around.

I went all in once again. This time I spead my IRA over many stocks, including high-yields Bank of America and Citigroup. (I thought the worst was over, what can I say?)

Anyway, you know what happened next. My nest egg has been scrambled — or poached!

I’m assuming there are plenty more like me out there. So if you are reading this, I feel your pain.

I’m holding on to those stocks. Let it ride. I’m in it for the long haul. At least now I have no choice. It takes the most volatile aspect of this all out of the decision-making process. That would be me.

Blog originally posted at LI

Financial Crisis Ripple Effect

October 10, 2008

As an entrepreneur running a startup online publishing company, I look a the bloodletting on Wall Street — and my IRAs and stocks — and wonder what effects this will have on the advertising climate moving forward. For me the losses are paper. It’s as if it’s not even real. Not yet anyway.

But my concern is how the financial crunch might impact our industry as a whole. The industry was already well into a time of transition and falling revenues. So are even tougher times ahead? Will companies stop advertising? Will people stop taking out classifieds or buying photos from our web sites? Maybe even stop subscribing to the daily paper (I know this already happened) or monthly magazine to cut costs?

No one seems to be looking ahead. We’re all rubberneckers driving by a car wreck. But I can’t help but wonder — fear — what’s next.

What are your thoughts or observations?

Blog originally posted at Wired Journalists